Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Microsoft v Apple: The Great No-Brainer

I wouldn't normally do a pure geek post, but this is irresistible. I reviewed a couple of Apple books in The Sunday Times, commenting, en passant, that Apples are the only computers worth having. A reader emailed me to say I had 'fallen for the hype'. Well, let me see. Microsoft has just launched its Zune music player to compete with Apple's iPod. In January it is also to launch Vista, its new operating system. But, it seems, there is one eensy-weensy problem. Vista is incompatible with Zune. Doubtless this will be fixed at once. But for the moment - fallen for the hype? Responded to the idiocy more like.


  1. Bryan, this is a moot point. Devil's Kitchen and my client who runs Apple in this part of the world show the wonders of Mac. This latter chappy uses his notebook and it looks good. Against this is Quinlan [Black Quill] whose Mac has blown up and he's virtually computerless now. Others I know have had similar problems - possibly the system is too hyped up [in non-geek-speak. The argument apears, to me, to be similar to that of Pal-Secam versus Sony Beta and we know how that ended up.

  2. Well, that's a contrarian view if ever I heard one. I've worked in the computer industry since 1961, for many years on personal computers at a very senior level, and never heard of Apple machines being taken very seriously.

    They have a niche market for designers, including page layout - Pagemaker and their laser printer made that possible. But it and other programs are available on the PC with a far greater choice of printers and other peripherals.

    The interface (WIMP) was copied from Xerox Parc, and I used a beautiful Xerox machine with this in London way before Apple.

    Microsoft copied one typical Apple lunacy - use the Start button to stop the machine!

    The main problem with the Apple design was greed - they did not want you opening it up and replacing bits by faster and cheaper ones. That led to many people having no interest, and that led to few software applications, and few hardware add-ons.

    The machine was a triumph of style over content. If you wanted transparent covers etc on a PC, you could have them. On the Apple, it was mandatory. No choice - typical monopolist!

    Their choice of processor has not endured.

    I am a Fellow of the British Society, a real techie: you can see that I think the Apple machines are silly, which is not the same thing as cool. To me cool is Deep Blue and its like - a thousand times and more faster than Apple.

    I have never heard anyone judge another machine by comparison with the Apple - the usual question is how much slower it is.

    The Macintosh did definitely not "configure [pre-configure? - configure is a technical term] all future computers". I couldn't name one, even in the micro field. What is true is that the Apples have been forced to copy the IBM PC in some respects such as openness and processor.

    I don't know much about the iPod because no-one I know has one. It may be Nirvana for the design clique, but storing and delivering low quality compressed sound would not cause an electronics engineer to break sweat. Once again their strategy for success is to create a monopoly (via iTunes), and I'm surprised the monopolies legislation has not caught them. It's not the iPod that will make them profits - it's the stranglehold on certain types of music.

  3. The Mac is undoubtedly a more stable work environment but the simple fact is you cannot always get the software you want. Any kind of work requiring computational power, obscure software solutions, or (cough) gaming: the PC is the only choice. Even updating blogs is easier on the PC as some browser-based interfaces won’t work correctly on any of my Macs.

    Yet, paradoxically, I find the limitations of the Mac to be very enabling. I go to my Mac when I want to write. Undistracted by all the things I can do on my PC, the Mac is the closest I come to using a fountain pen. It is, somehow, just a calmer environment and I feel a better person when I’ve finished using it.

  4. This last, of david b is possibly so. I had a Mac and it was a peaceful working environment. Their British service division was appalling though.

  5. Yes, the Mac is just like a fountain pen - I think that is a great analogy. All I do on my Mac is write (and post to my blog) and no one has ever disturbed me. It is unattractive to the other members of the household because it does not do games so it is all mine. It is also resistant to infection.

    Like the Mac its software, Appleworks, is also simple and does exactly what it is asked without all the overhelpful default extras from Word. However the version I had did make one fatal error - it failed to save my work even though it gave me the impression that it was and I lost 10 000 words. Since then we have parted company for good.

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